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Executing a federal arrest warrant involves several steps, carried out by law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), or other authorized federal agencies. Here’s how the process typically unfolds:
Issuance of the Federal Warrant
Probable Cause: Before a federal arrest warrant is issued, there must be probable cause that a federal crime has been committed. This is often established by an affidavit submitted by a law enforcement officer, detailing the evidence against the suspect.
Application to a Judge or Magistrate: A federal law enforcement officer or prosecutor will apply for an arrest warrant to a federal judge or magistrate.
Review and Approval: The judge or magistrate reviews the evidence presented and, if it is deemed sufficient, issues the arrest warrant. The warrant will contain the name of the accused, the offense charged, and command the arrest of the individual.
Planning the Arrest
Warrant Entered into Databases: The warrant is entered into national databases such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which makes it accessible to law enforcement agencies across the country.
Assignment: The warrant is assigned to federal agents who will be responsible for carrying out the arrest. Depending on the nature of the crime, the suspect, and their location, different agencies or special units may be involved.
Investigation and Surveillance: Agents may conduct further investigation and surveillance to determine the whereabouts of the suspect and the best time and manner to execute the arrest safely.
Execution of the Warrant
Approach: Agents will approach the suspect, often at a time and place where they expect to find the suspect and where the arrest can be made with minimal risk to all parties.
Identification and Verification: Law enforcement officers will identify themselves and verify the identity of the suspect.
Reading the Warrant: The agents will inform the suspect that they have a warrant for their arrest. While they may read the warrant to the suspect, they are not required to present the physical document at the time of arrest.
Custody: The suspect is taken into custody. This involves physically detaining the person and can include handcuffing and searching them for weapons or contraband.
Miranda Rights: Upon arrest, the suspect should be read their Miranda rights, informing them of their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney.
After the Arrest
Transportation: The suspect is transported to a federal detention facility or local jail.
Booking: Upon arrival at the detention facility, the suspect is booked. This process includes fingerprinting, photographing, and collecting personal information.
Initial Appearance: The suspect will be brought before a magistrate or judge without unnecessary delay, typically within 24 hours of arrest. During this initial appearance, the charges will be presented, the suspect’s rights will be reiterated, and bail issues will be addressed.
Further Legal Proceedings: From here, the suspect will be subject to further legal proceedings, including arraignment, pre-trial motions, potential plea bargaining, trial, and sentencing if convicted.
The actual execution of a federal arrest warrant can vary depending on the specific circumstances and risks involved. Law enforcement agencies often tailor their approach to ensure the safety of officers, the suspect, and the public.